Templars edge Hawks in dramatic 60-58 shootout win
By Matt Harris
MANTI—Manti’s gym was about as packed as it could possibly be for a cross-town rivalry game last Friday; and for the fans, the ticket price was well worth it.
In a rivalry showdown between the top two teams in Region 14, Manti kept their region record unspotted by a hair with a dramatic 60-58 win over North Sanpete, winning their 10th straight over the Hawks and moving their overall record to 12-3.
Senior Austin Cox led the Templars with 15 points, powered by three 3-pointers, and senior Tanner Justesen drained another three 3-pointers en route to 13 points, while seniors Trace Boggess and Tate Quarnberg scored 10 points apiece. Manti’s usual leading scorer, senior Grady Thompson, struggled his way to 8 points, his second straight game under double figures.
On the Hawks’ end, senior Brady Jacobsen led all scorers with 17 points on 5-8 from the field, while junior Landon Bowles chipped in 12 points, making good use of the foul line with 8 makes on 10 attempts.
“I was very pleased with our defense, and more so, our perimeter defense,” Manti Coach Devin Shakespear said. “That’s actually not been a strength for us thus far this year, and it’s something that we’ve been focusing on every day in practice…North Sanpete’s a very good shooting team, so I was very pleased that, in the second and third quarters, that our perimeter defense was really good.”
While North Sanpete played the Templars wire to wire in the most competitive game of the rivalry in many years, knowing the game could have been won is all the more painful. The Hawks moved to 10-5 on the season and have lost 13 of the last 14 matchups against Manti.
“We were disappointed,” Hawks Coach Cris Hoopes said, “just in the fact that we feel like we could compete with anybody and Manti was a good measuring stick…we were hoping to get ‘em.”
Manti was golden in their start to the game as Justesen nailed back to back threes within the first minute of regulation, but North Sanpete had the length advantage throughout the quarter as the Templars struggled to contain the 6’5” Steadman in the post. The Hawks got out to a 14-9 lead in the first quarter and tried to have the last shot, but as Jacobsen’s layup rimmed out, Boggess and Justesen stormed down the court for a last-second tip-in by Boggess to Bring Manti within two.
Within two minutes of the second quarter, Manti got the lead back, 15-13, but both teams traded baskets for several minutes, staying within a possession of each other until the final minute and a half. A few quick baskets put the Templars up, 24-21. Then, with the final possession of the half, senior Grady Thompson drew the defense to the top of the key and fired a pass to Boggess, and Boggess nailed his second 3-pointer of the game as the buzzer sounded.
Manti’s defense began to clamp in after the break as the Templars slowly built their lead off of several forced turnovers on the perimeter. It was Cox who broke the game open with a pair of threes to build the lead to 12 as Tyrel Morley hit a three for the Hawks in between. Morley’s 3-pointer was one of only two made by the Hawks in the game despite them being one of the most frequent 3-point-shooting teams in 3A.
Manti’s lead would not stay large for long as Jacobsen propelled the Hawks right back into it with a pair of layups, and North Sanpete fought back to within seven going into the final quarter.
With 1:40 remaining, the Templars had a comfortable six-point lead, and North Sanpete, no stranger to close games, floored the gas. Jacobsen eased in a layup, then the Hawks forced two turnovers and a missed layup on three straight fast breaks by Manti. With 42 seconds remaining, Jacobsen found senior Isaac Applegarth for his only basket of the game to make it a two-point game, 57-55, and force a timeout by Shakespear.
After struggling to shoot all game long, Thompson took the next possession and drove from the top of the key straight toward the hoop and rolled in a layup for a 59-55 lead. Jacobsen answered by drawing a foul and sinking both of his free throws.
On the next possession, Bowles stripped the ball from Justesen on the perimeter, but before the Hawks could get the fast-break opportunity, Justesen fouled Bowles to send him to the line. Hawk students and parents alike were on their feet with delight.
Bowles sank his first free throw to make it a one-point game, but clanked the second off the front of the rim, and the Hawks had to foul Thompson on the next possession. Thompson made one of his two attempts for a 60-58 lead with 8.1 seconds left.
With the final possession, the Hawks turned to Jacobsen, who streaked down the court with the ball for the final shot that would never come.
Jacobsen, looking for a lane, dribbled straight into a trap defense by Thompson and Justesen, and Justesen stripped the ball away and hugged it as the seconds ran out.
Looking back, Shakespeare knew that the Templars’ 10-21 effort from the foul line was nearly the stat that killed them.
“Obviously, free throws make a big difference to hold a lead,” Shakespeare said, “and we didn’t make ours. As simple as it is, that’s it…It was our worst free throw performance of the year, by far.”
Previous to the win over North Sanpete, the Templars won a road contest against Delta in a low-scoring blowout, 59-39. It was Manti’s best defensive showing of the season as the Templars held the Rabbits to 30 percent from the field and 14 percent from three.
Cox and Justesen led the scoring effort with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Manti will next face Juab this Wednesday at home in another tough matchup of top 3A teams as Juab holds a 9-3 record. They will then be at home against American Leadership Academy next Wednesday.